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What are marijuana withdrawal symptoms?

Marijuana (active ingredient THC) is one of the most commonly abused illicit drugs in the country.  While most people do not believe in the addictive properties of marijuana, THC can be psychologically addictive.  And not surprisingly, many people develop physical dependence on marijuana every year. Learn more about marijuana withdrawal and how to beat it here. Then, share your questions about marijuana withdrawal and its symptoms at the end.

Why do marijuana withdrawal symptoms occur?

Minds and bodies without drugs are in a delicate balance known as homeostasis, and they don’t like to deviate from this balance. Once a person uses a drug like marijuana regularly, however, they can become physically dependent on it. In addition to building a tolerance to THC, some people even need it in their system in order to function normally.

Because of the psychoactive effects of marijuana on the central nervous system, the body must alter its functions slightly when you stop smoking. In effect, you have to create a new homeostasis when you’ve become dependent on THC after daily use. When a person who is physically dependent on marijuana stops using it, the body is still trying to function at this altered homeostasis, which results in withdrawal symptoms.

What are symptoms of marijuana withdrawal?

An intense craving for marijuana is one of the most common marijuana withdrawal symptoms. Irritability, anxiety, and restlessness may also occur during marijuana withdrawal, as can headaches, gastrointestinal problems, and a decrease in appetite. The severity of these withdrawal symptoms will usually depend on how long a person has been dependent on the drug as well as the severity of the dependency. Some people may not even have any marijuana withdrawal symptoms when they quit using it.

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms: How long do they last?

Symptoms of marijuana withdrawal can begin in as little as a day after last use, but some individuals may not experience them until up to three days after last use. Once they begin, they can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Marijuana withdrawal symptom treatment

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms, while not dangerous, can be very uncomfortable and frustrating. The hardest symptom to deal with is usually the intense cravings for the drug, which can lead to a relapse. Staying busy with activities that do not involve marijuana use can help keep your mind off of using the drug. This can include activities such as going to a movie, working out in the gym, or hanging out with friends or family members that don’t use marijuana.

Other marijuana withdrawal symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter medications. Ibuprofen for headaches and stomach medicine, peppermint or ginger for nausea can be helpful. Relaxation exercises and some herbal teas can also help relieve the intense anxiety that some individuals may experience. Physicians, mental health professionals, and addiction specialists are also an excellent resource when dealing with marijuana withdrawal and addiction.

Marijuana withdrawal symptoms questions

Do you have any questions about marijuana withdrawal symptoms? Are you or a loved one going through marijuana withdrawal? Leave us a message below to get your questions answered or even just to share your own experience about the subject.

Reference Sources: Cannabis Factsheet – NSW Department of Health
NCBI: Pharmacological Treatment of Cannabis Dependence
NCBI: Diagnostic criteria for cannabis withdrawal syndrome
SAMHSA: Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment

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21 Responses to “What are marijuana withdrawal symptoms?
5:46 pm July 22nd, 2013

It is like losing your best friend. These withdrawl are there but since THC comes out of the system so slowly that its is weaning off naturally.

11:12 am July 23rd, 2013

Hi Jake. I can relate to that feeling. It took at least a few months for THC to leave my system, and then another 6 months to feel more energy.

3:16 am October 28th, 2013

A few days and up to 2 weeks? That is nowhere even remotely close to reality. For a long time daily toker, it takes at least 4 MONTHS to get back to normal. The first 2 months are a living hell, and one must have an extremely solid reputation at work built up as you will be mentally worthless as well as physically weak. I am still shocked I wasn’t fired. The last 2 months are much more tolerable with a fair number of good days. Tobacco withdrawal is a laughable walk in the park by comparison.

1:36 pm October 28th, 2013

Thanks for sharing your experience, Marshal. I’ve actually heard that long term use of marijuana can stay in the system and impact the brain for up to 6 months after cessation of use…but we chose to be more conservative here and stick with the scientific evidence.

3:32 am January 24th, 2014

I smoked 30 years every day multiple times, my paws symptoms have lasted 4 months with no end in sight. Panic attacks, depressed , low energy. It is living hell, I never thought something that helped me so much for so long would be this bad.

7:26 pm June 20th, 2014

Hi, I’m 30 and smoking for 16 years. Like what jake said it’s like losing a best friend. I’m still smoking every day and want to quit but I enjoy it too much. I feel really really pissed off without it and feel like nothing is the same without it. I’m really deep in this and actually can’t see how my life will be balanced without it.

2:42 pm June 24th, 2014

Hello Sas. What you describe sounds like physical and psychological dependence. However there is hope! Many have walked the way, which I can’t promise is easy, but sure you can go through the rough process and continue your life without it. You can talk to a doctor to get a further guidance.

7:35 am November 7th, 2014

I agree with..Lou3:32 am January 24th, 2014
I smoked 30 years every day multiple times, my paws symptoms have lasted 4 months with no end in sight. Panic attacks, depressed , low energy. It is living hell, I never thought something that helped me so much for so long would be this bad….i now know that i get my panic attacks from Marijuana….when its time for a smoke…my bodies like act weird..,,like nervous and inpatient…and I am Naturally hyper active and this is why i started enjoying it..cause it calms me down…me too since i was 13 i smoked weed and now im 40,,,i got loss of sleep…i don;t dream anymore…and feel weird and funny when people are near,,,,,if it wasn;t for the nervouse and panic attack ..i would be releived…i know i am a funny person and used to like it making somebody laugh naturally… included…

10:28 pm December 16th, 2015

Hi there my daughter has just stopped using cannabis and is having bad withdrawals she can’t sleep at night can’t eat and if she does it goes straight through her and is really sweating bad to the point it’s dripping off her she looks terrible and I know she was smoking about 30 bongs a day how can I help her as she is not good at all thanks zoe

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
10:55 pm December 29th, 2015

Hi, Zoe. Relatively speaking, marijuana withdrawal can be characterized as a mild set of physical and psychological symptoms. But, some withdrawal symptoms can make it hard for someone to stay off marijuana. Here’s a helpful reading: Read thoroughly, and consider your options. Good luck!

3:21 pm August 31st, 2016

Yes i smoke weed two days in may and i started crying and breaking down 3 days later i think maybe it was laced but weed can’t hit u three days later and then this month i smoked weed on a Thursday and i started having headaches and cant sleep at night please help

3:07 am February 20th, 2017

Can cutting down on marijuana usage cause breast tenderness in women over 50 who have smoked for many years?

6:03 am June 29th, 2017

At first I thought I was going through severe anxiety, Iv

6:10 am June 29th, 2017

At first I thought I was going crazy. I haven’t smoked any weed in a couple weeks after being a daily smoker for years. I’m going through severe anxiety, insomnia, I feel like I’m having panic attacks around people, and depression. I want to quit but this really sucks.

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
10:40 am June 30th, 2017

Hi Scott. Call 1-888-503-1835 for a toll-free and confidential marijuana helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.

3:58 pm July 11th, 2017

With my major depression I see that everytime I quit , the depression worsens and suicidal thoughts happen 5 times a day all the week long! And I get intense mood swings like I’ve never had before,.

10:08 pm August 24th, 2017

I have smoked Marijuana for 45 yrs. Off and on. The last 6 months or so I have been smoking every evening. .for the last 3 days I have not been smoking. .. I am having heart palpitations so bad. I feel like I have ran a marathon. .. I checked my heart rate and it is 121 beats per minute. I am so exhausted, I don’t feel like doing anything. And I am miserable. How long will this last if I decide to stop completely? Should I slowly stop?

Lydia @ Addiction Blog
5:01 pm September 1st, 2017

Hi Marilyn. Call 1-888-503-1835 for a toll-free and confidential marijuana helpline available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. You will be greeted by a professional and understanding consultant who will assist you in understanding the types of marijuana addiction treatments available to you.

4:45 pm January 25th, 2018

I am a recovery alcoholic so I am very familiar with alcohol withdrawal and actually have been medically treated for it, however I have a friend going through marijuana withdrawal I believe. They haven’t used in 3-4 days and can’t sleep and are having the cold sweats restlessness etc. Is there anything that will help with these symptoms? I know with alcohol for me at least I have to have medical attention because I have had seizures trying to withdrawal myself at home. They are not craving it at the moment as far as I know. I have read the above article just wondered if there was anything else. Are there any type of herbal calming over the counter agents that you know may help? I am afraid they will just relapse if the symptoms continue for too long, Most people do not believe you can be addicted to marijuana and there is no harm in it, Just would like an opinion as I have never used it and am not familiar with it very much at all. He has been using it for years. Thanks for your time.

12:14 am September 6th, 2018

ive gone through the withdrawls many times and ive always gotten shakes from it what could that mean ?

4:56 pm September 6th, 2018

Hi Stone. Every person may have a different set of symptoms during the withdrawal process. However, if you are in need of treatment, call the helpline you see on the website to get in touch with a trusted treatment consultant.

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